Are home-cooked meals going extinct?

August 28, 2017 Chef Tse

  • According to The Wall Street Journal, cooking has become a lost art.
  • Supermarkets are remodeling their prepared-foods departments and hiring more food-preparation workers to cater to our increasing need to “pick up dinner.”
  • Cooking is a way to connect with your children, save money and be healthy.

I was a bit surprised and perplexed when this article from The Wall Street Journal appeared in my email.

With all the obsession around celebrity chefs, Instagram food photos and the Food Network, I figured people would be inspired to cook. But it looks like I was wrong. Has the fine art of cooking for ourselves and our families really gone by the wayside?

We are busy, busy people. The more activities we try to fit into our day, the less time we have to for basic activities such as cooking. And admittedly, cooking does take both time and effort. First, we have to figure out what we want to eat. Then we need to buy the ingredients. And then we need to go home to transform those ingredients into a meal.

More and more businesses have picked up on this trend. Just look how many meal-in-a-box delivery services have popped up. They promise tempting, mouthwatering meals delivered to your doorstop without all the hassle of planning or prep work. Supermarkets from Fred Meyer to Whole Foods are remodeling their prepared-foods departments and hiring more food-preparation workers to cater to our increasing need to “pick up dinner.”

But as a chef and a mom, I think it’s important to know how to cook for three reasons.

First of all, it’s a way to connect with your children. I know this may sound crazy, but hear me out. I have a very busy three-year-old child. Despite the fact that he’s a bundle of energy, he’s willing to sit still long enough to help me make food. Yes, it does get a bit messy at times, but it’s a great way for us to connect with each other. Children do so many activities where we as adults don’t participate, so it’s nice to have something that we can do together. And as an added bonus, my little one is more likely to eat what we make because he had a hand in preparing it.

Second, cooking is less expensive. When we opt for prepared foods, we have to pay someone for their labor. Take lettuce for example. At the grocery store, a head of lettuce sells for $2, but a bag of picked, separated and washed leaves is $5. While you’re paying for someone’s labor, you’re also paying for the cost of running a facility where the food can be prepared. And let me tell you from experience that this is not cheap! While this type of food may be more convenient for our stomachs, it’s not so for our wallets.

Third, and most important in my opinion, cooking is good for your health. We’ve all heard the statistics that obesity and diseases such as diabetes are on the rise, especially in our children. When we start eating more and more prepared and convenience foods, those statistics are bound to increase. Let’s say for a moment I own a prepared foods company. If I want you as a customer to order from me again, the food needs to taste good. That means I’m going to put three things in my food: sugar, salt and fat. The more of those three things we eat, the unhealthier we become. If we actually take the time to buy ingredients and cook them at home, we end up using less sugar, salt and fat.

To me, cooking is a way to relax, to connect with my family and to nourish the body and minds. I’m not saying we need to ban prepared foods or going out to dinner, just rely on them a little less. Instead of swinging by the grocery store hot foods bar every night, pick a couple of days a week to cook for yourself or your family. Use fresh, seasonal ingredients. Keep it simple. And most of all, have fun!

Read more on cooking, recipes and nutrition from Chef Tse!

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